Julia Hughes was a very special lady and an exceptional teacher.
She had a big, big heart and a passion for helping both children and adults -- especially in the area of reading.
Mrs. Hughes had a simple belief that if you could read and comprehend, you could succeed in life and become whatever you wanted to become.
I should know, because I was one of those fortunate students helped greatly by Mrs. Hughes.
Because I had difficulty reading and comprehending when growing up, I attended specialized reading classes taught by Mrs. Hughes while attending Thomson Elementary School. I was enrolled in her class for four years -- from the second through the sixth grades.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I had that problem. And from time to time, as an adult, I still do. I find myself reading aloud sometimes in order to better comprehend what I've read. It's one of the tools I learned from her and one I never forgot.
I recall her telling me there was nothing wrong with reading certain things out loud, if it helped me to absorb better what I had read.
As a teacher, specialized in the field of reading, Mrs. Hughes always was so patient and understanding. I can remember reading things over and over and not getting it. She never once got upset with me. She always believed that if she continued to help me, I'd get better.
She was right. I did. And I give her much credit for it.
My mother discovered that I needed specialized help. She and Mrs. Hughes had many conversations concerning my reading difficulty and what could be done. My mother was the first person to realize I was having problems and sought help for me from a neighbor, Connie Shelnut, who tutored me for a couple of summers.
I'll always be indebted to my mother and Mrs. Shelnut, too, for all of their help.
I was deeply saddened when I learned of Mrs. Hughes' death on Wednesday, June 23. She was 86.
I remember Mrs. Hughes wanting to know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I wanted to be a professional baseball player when I first met her. But when I was promoted to the sixth grade, I changed my mind and wanted to become a newspaper reporter.
It was the latter that I made a career of many years down the road -- thanks in-part to Mrs. Hughes having believed in me.
She was a wonderful lady. She was a teacher through and through. She taught because it was her genuine calling in life.
I will forever remember Mrs. Hughes and how she, as a teacher, enriched my life.